[Letter] 1923 June 7, West New Brighton, N.Y. [to] Mr. Carl Schurz Lowden

Dublin Core


[Letter] 1923 June 7, West New Brighton, N.Y. [to] Mr. Carl Schurz Lowden


Lowden, Carl Schurz
Capital punishment.
Punishment in crime deterrence.


Markham writes to Lowden about the treatment of criminals. He opposes capital punishment and penitentiaries; he is in favor of rehabilitating the character of criminals.


Markham, Edwin, 1852-1940


Edwin Markham Archive, Horrmann Library




Wagner College, Staten Island, NY


Please contact the Horrmann Library at Wagner College for rights to use this digital image.









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West New Brighton, N.Y. June 7, 1923
Dear Mr Carl Schurz Lowden:
Capital Punishment? No, I do not stand for it. First, I do not think that severe punishment necessarily acts as a strong deterrent. It is certainty of punishment, not severity of punishment, which subdues the criminal mind. Second, I think that we should look on the criminal as a diseased person, an unfortunate who needs restraint and mental medicine. Let him be placed under the care of a high-minded and earnest persons for observation, education and discipline; and there will then be ground for hope that “he will come to himself” as the prodigal did when he was feeding on husks in a far country. This savior work should be placed in the hands of persons inspired by the noblest spiritual aims. I should also like to see the gloomy penitentiaries disappear with the other specters of the dark ages. I fancy that it would be possible to place our prisoners on some guarded island, where they would be furnished seed and tools for cultivating the fields and producing the food they consume. Indeed, they could be encouraged to build their own houses and to organize their own social order, and thus lay the foundation for the creation of character. Of course the time to begin to educate men is a long time before they become criminals. We need to go back to eugenics and the “borning” of better babes. But this is another and a longer story.
Cordially yours:
Edwin Markham

Date Digital


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Markham, Edwin, 1852-1940 , “[Letter] 1923 June 7, West New Brighton, N.Y. [to] Mr. Carl Schurz Lowden,” Wagner College Digital Collections, accessed September 26, 2021, https://wagnercollections.omeka.net/items/show/5101.